Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Elephants and burial behaviour

Expand Messages
  • bobml
    ... questionable ... Stephen: I do tend to believe that, but of course language can mean different things to different people, which is perhaps one reason why
    Message 1 of 12 , Dec 1, 1999
    • 0 Attachment
      ----------
      > From: Marcel F. Williams <hydra9@...>
      > To: AAT@onelist.com
      > Subject: Re: [AAT] Elephants and burial behaviour
      > Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 6:07 PM
      >
      > From: "Marcel F. Williams" <hydra9@...>
      >
      > Mario.Vaneechoutte@... wrote:
      > >
      > > From: Mario.Vaneechoutte@...
      > >
      > > Mario:
      > > > >> Also from the archeological data it seems evident that language as
      > > we
      > > > know it, that is language which enables to think about the future,
      > > that is
      > > > language which will lead to things like burial behaviour, is rather
      > > recent
      > > > (200 000 years at most?).
      > > >
      > > Marc:
      > > > That is what Stephen also believes (or even later??), but
      questionable
      > > IMO.

      Stephen: I do tend to believe that, but of course language can mean
      different things to different people, which is perhaps one reason why there
      is so much disagreement between people as to when, how and why language may
      have evolved. Let me briefly explain some of my admittedly speculative
      ideas. (I've been intending to post a more detailed hypothesis on the AAT
      onelist files, but have been a bit busy lately.) I believe that the type of
      langauge humans presently use might be a
      relatively recent invention, perhaps only a few hundred thousand years old.
      But I've never suggested that speech didn't exist earlier, or at least a
      more
      simplified form of human language, in fact I believe that some type of
      speech most certainly
      did exist.

      I agree with Marc and Elaine and others who have suggested that the diving
      and swimming part of our evolutionary past was probably a key factor in the
      development of some of the prerequisites for human speech. I don't believe,
      however, that language evolved simply because it was a more efficient
      way of communicating than the type of communication systems that had been
      relied upon before. Otherwise, why didn't it become more common within the
      animal
      kingdom? (I concede that elephents, whales, dolphins and other animals may
      have very
      sophisticated vocal (or other?) communication systems, but are these
      languages as we understand the term?)

      I believe there must have been some type of change in the environment that
      led to the evolution of langauge, not simply a bigger brain and more
      control over breathing (people can talk without speaking, after all).
      The most obvious environmental changes that human ancestors have faced
      since their split form the (non-langauge using?) chimpanzees, include,
      becoming less arboreal, more aquatic adapted (i.e., better divers and
      swimmers), then becoming more terrestrial. If we accept that becoming more
      aquatic led to the evolution of language then we must also accept that most
      (or all?) Homo species had language. If we accept that the return to land
      led to human language then all anatomically modern humans must have had
      language, and maybe Neandertals? Of course this is possible, and perhaps
      even probable, but the
      archeological evidence for language use in these species is not, IMO,
      overwhelming. (Marc may disagree, and others, I'm sure)

      One other significant environmental change that humans have gone through
      recently is the migration accross Wallace's Line, essentially from lands of
      lions, leopards and wild dogs, to a land with no such carnivorous predators
      (though of course Austalasia had its own carnivorous predators, but these
      had
      evolved in a very different environment to the environment of
      Eurasia/Africa). It is often assumed that humans had language when they
      crossed Wallace's Line. I'm not convinced of this. Certainly I don't
      believe there is ample evidence to treat
      this assumption as an undisputed fact, as many do. The question I therefore
      ask,
      speculatively, is, if humans didn't have the type of language which we
      recognize today as human language, when they crossed
      Wallaces Line, could it have been the crossing of Wallace's Line which led
      to the evolution of the type of language we now recognize as human
      language?



      > > >
      > > Marcel:
      > > > >MW: The African elephant also buries their dead and appears to have
      a
      > > high
      > > > complex audio-vocal language.
      > > >
      > > Marc:
      > > > That's true. IMO burying your death does not imply (human) speech.
      > >
      > > Mario: Well, thanks for bringing this up, Marcel. I also recently
      > > learned that elephants have a subsonic (right word?) kind of
      > > communication. Their long 'alpenhorn like' trunks and their large
      > > 'parabolic receptor' ears might serve the function of sending and
      > > receiving long distance messages, not audible to the human ear, because
      > > of too low frequency. This kind of communication seems to have attained
      > > some degree of complexity. Together with their burial behaviour, it
      > > keeps intriguing me. So, in both cases, burial behaviour could indicate
      > > the existence of complex language, as I claimed (?)
      > >
      > > Does anyone know:
      > > How strong is the evidence of burial behaviour in elephants? To what
      > > degree do they exhibit this behaviour? Is it common in all elephant
      > > herds? Is there literature about the complexity of their language?
      > > (But maybe these questions do not belong on this list)
      > >
      > > Mario Vaneechoutte
      >
      > MW: I've been accumilating facts on proboscidean morphology and
      > intelligence since I first read about the remarkable intelligence of
      > elephants in the 1972 book, "Smarter than Man?" which was co-written by
      > one of the contributors (Karl-Erich Fichtelius) to the book, 'The
      > Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction. It was mostly about the intelligence of
      > cetaceans but they also talked about the intelligence of elephants as
      > did John Lilly a few years earlier.
      >
      > Before I continue, let me relate this quote from the book Portraits in
      > the Wild (1975) by Cynthia Moss, on some strange behavior in the African
      > elephant, "It has seriously been considered that the elephants know that
      > their companions are being killed for their tusk and that they carry the
      > tusk away to hide them. What is more, tusk have been found smashed
      > against rocks." page 33.
      >
      > And here's a quote from 'Smarter than Man' about the Elephant, "A
      > number of young elephants in captivity developed the nasty habit of
      > stuffing mud into the wooden bells they wore around their knecks so that
      > they could no longer ring. Then they stole bananas during the night. In
      > this way they managed to plunder entire banana groves in the immediate
      > vicinity of the plantation owner's house."
      >
      > And they can read too! Another quote from Smarter than Man, " In 1957,
      > Bernard Rensch described the following experiment performed on a
      > five-year-old elephant in a zoo. It was taught to pick out one of two
      > visual symbols in order to get food. It learned to remember 20 such
      > pairs of symbols at one time, and presumably could have learned more. As
      > the process continued, it learned faster and faster. One year later,
      > the same elephant was tested on 13 of these pairs and managed all of
      > them but one, which had been difficult to learn in the first place". An
      > elephant never forgets?
      >
      > I didn't learn how to read until I was six, but I always was a slow
      > learner.
      >
      > And, finally, here's a quote from the Encyclopedia Americana (1975)
      > "Elephants seem to be extremely intelligent and individualistic. They
      > can make a great variety of sounds and definitely use sounds to
      > communicate among themselves. They also appear to have complex emotions
      > and very pronounced personalities. In fact, they act like human beings,
      > seeming to reason and act logically. They have been know to cry from
      > sheer frustration; to commit "mercy killings" on an incurably ill member
      > of the herd; to help- by lifting or supporting- a wounded or ill member
      > of the herd and to rescue humans from other elephants or from natural or
      > man-made disasters." I.T. Sanderson who made similar statements when the
      > zoologist wrote his book on the natural history of elephants, 'Dynasty
      > of the Abu' (1963).
      >
      > To get back to the burial behavior of elephants, Cynthia Moss writes,
      > "Elephants often bury the dead, including dead elephants, other dead
      > animals they find, and even dead humans they have killed. They cover the
      > body with earth and vegetation." pg 33.
      >
      > What do I think of all this? Well, I certainly don't think we have to
      > look towards the stars to find evidence of other intelligent life in the
      > universe. We just have to look a little beyond our human egos.
      >

      SM: Very interesting. I fully agree, there are certainly a lot of
      intelligent species inhabiting
      the Earth, elephants included. As far as the burying of the dead is
      concerned, could this, do you think, have anything to do with trying to
      keep carnivorous predators and scavengers away?

      Stephen Munro.

      > > Community email addresses:
      > Post message: AAT@onelist.com
      > Subscribe: AAT-subscribe@onelist.com
      > Unsubscribe: AAT-unsubscribe@onelist.com
      > List owner: AAT-owner@onelist.com
      >
      > Shortcut URL to this page:
      > http://www.onelist.com/community/AAT
    • Marcel F. Williams
      MW: The means by which an animal communicates is secondary, IMO, relative to the role of intelligence. So the question is, do humans have an animal mind or
      Message 2 of 12 , Dec 1, 1999
      • 0 Attachment
        MW: The means by which an animal communicates is secondary, IMO,
        relative to the role of intelligence. So the question is, do humans have
        an animal mind or some sort of a 'miracle mind'. The co-discover of
        evolution through natural selection, Alfred Wallace, thought humans had
        a 'miracle mind'. Charles Darwin thought humans had an animal mind. I
        believe that Darwin was correct.

        There are basically two types of intelligence in mammals. Sentient
        intelligence and non-sentient intelligence. Sentient intelligence is the
        ability of an animal to perceive itself as an individual 'distinct' from
        all other objects in the universe. This is also called 'self-awareness'.

        Amongst the primates, only humans and the great apes are known to have
        sentient minds. Only humans and the great apes can consistently
        recognize their own images in a mirror. The difference in intelligence
        between a human and a rhesus monkey is both quantitative and
        'qualitative'. But the difference in intelligence between a human and a
        chimpanzee is only quantitative, IMO.

        As far as audio-vocal communications is concerned, the most likely place
        where there would be an-- exclusive-- emphasis on speech, and elaborate
        facial expressions, would be in an aquatic environment where only your
        head would be above the water-- so you could not use body posture (as is
        used by chimpanzees who also use sound and facial expressions) to
        communicate. Since you could only use speech and facial expressions to
        communicate in an aquatic environment-- that's what happened. Necessity
        was the mother of 'vocal elaboration' in this case. But, again, Elaine
        Morgan-- ingeniously-- solved this problem back in 1972, IMO.

        Marcel F. Williams
        12/1/99
        *********

        bobml wrote:
        >
        > From: "bobml" <mlbob@...>
        >
        > ----------
        > > From: Marcel F. Williams <hydra9@...>
        > > To: AAT@onelist.com
        > > Subject: Re: [AAT] Elephants and burial behaviour
        > > Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 6:07 PM
        > >
        > > From: "Marcel F. Williams" <hydra9@...>
        > >
        > > Mario.Vaneechoutte@... wrote:
        > > >
        > > > From: Mario.Vaneechoutte@...
        > > >
        > > > Mario:
        > > > > >> Also from the archeological data it seems evident that language as
        > > > we
        > > > > know it, that is language which enables to think about the future,
        > > > that is
        > > > > language which will lead to things like burial behaviour, is rather
        > > > recent
        > > > > (200 000 years at most?).
        > > > >
        > > > Marc:
        > > > > That is what Stephen also believes (or even later??), but
        > questionable
        > > > IMO.
        >
        > Stephen: I do tend to believe that, but of course language can mean
        > different things to different people, which is perhaps one reason why there
        > is so much disagreement between people as to when, how and why language may
        > have evolved. Let me briefly explain some of my admittedly speculative
        > ideas. (I've been intending to post a more detailed hypothesis on the AAT
        > onelist files, but have been a bit busy lately.) I believe that the type of
        > langauge humans presently use might be a
        > relatively recent invention, perhaps only a few hundred thousand years old.
        > But I've never suggested that speech didn't exist earlier, or at least a
        > more
        > simplified form of human language, in fact I believe that some type of
        > speech most certainly
        > did exist.
        >
        > I agree with Marc and Elaine and others who have suggested that the diving
        > and swimming part of our evolutionary past was probably a key factor in the
        > development of some of the prerequisites for human speech. I don't believe,
        > however, that language evolved simply because it was a more efficient
        > way of communicating than the type of communication systems that had been
        > relied upon before. Otherwise, why didn't it become more common within the
        > animal
        > kingdom? (I concede that elephents, whales, dolphins and other animals may
        > have very
        > sophisticated vocal (or other?) communication systems, but are these
        > languages as we understand the term?)
        >
        > I believe there must have been some type of change in the environment that
        > led to the evolution of langauge, not simply a bigger brain and more
        > control over breathing (people can talk without speaking, after all).
        > The most obvious environmental changes that human ancestors have faced
        > since their split form the (non-langauge using?) chimpanzees, include,
        > becoming less arboreal, more aquatic adapted (i.e., better divers and
        > swimmers), then becoming more terrestrial. If we accept that becoming more
        > aquatic led to the evolution of language then we must also accept that most
        > (or all?) Homo species had language. If we accept that the return to land
        > led to human language then all anatomically modern humans must have had
        > language, and maybe Neandertals? Of course this is possible, and perhaps
        > even probable, but the
        > archeological evidence for language use in these species is not, IMO,
        > overwhelming. (Marc may disagree, and others, I'm sure)
        >
        > One other significant environmental change that humans have gone through
        > recently is the migration accross Wallace's Line, essentially from lands of
        > lions, leopards and wild dogs, to a land with no such carnivorous predators
        > (though of course Austalasia had its own carnivorous predators, but these
        > had
        > evolved in a very different environment to the environment of
        > Eurasia/Africa). It is often assumed that humans had language when they
        > crossed Wallace's Line. I'm not convinced of this. Certainly I don't
        > believe there is ample evidence to treat
        > this assumption as an undisputed fact, as many do. The question I therefore
        > ask,
        > speculatively, is, if humans didn't have the type of language which we
        > recognize today as human language, when they crossed
        > Wallaces Line, could it have been the crossing of Wallace's Line which led
        > to the evolution of the type of language we now recognize as human
        > language?
        >
        > > > >
        > > > Marcel:
        > > > > >MW: The African elephant also buries their dead and appears to have
        > a
        > > > high
        > > > > complex audio-vocal language.
        > > > >
        > > > Marc:
        > > > > That's true. IMO burying your death does not imply (human) speech.
        > > >
        > > > Mario: Well, thanks for bringing this up, Marcel. I also recently
        > > > learned that elephants have a subsonic (right word?) kind of
        > > > communication. Their long 'alpenhorn like' trunks and their large
        > > > 'parabolic receptor' ears might serve the function of sending and
        > > > receiving long distance messages, not audible to the human ear, because
        > > > of too low frequency. This kind of communication seems to have attained
        > > > some degree of complexity. Together with their burial behaviour, it
        > > > keeps intriguing me. So, in both cases, burial behaviour could indicate
        > > > the existence of complex language, as I claimed (?)
        > > >
        > > > Does anyone know:
        > > > How strong is the evidence of burial behaviour in elephants? To what
        > > > degree do they exhibit this behaviour? Is it common in all elephant
        > > > herds? Is there literature about the complexity of their language?
        > > > (But maybe these questions do not belong on this list)
        > > >
        > > > Mario Vaneechoutte
        > >
        > > MW: I've been accumilating facts on proboscidean morphology and
        > > intelligence since I first read about the remarkable intelligence of
        > > elephants in the 1972 book, "Smarter than Man?" which was co-written by
        > > one of the contributors (Karl-Erich Fichtelius) to the book, 'The
        > > Aquatic Ape: Fact or Fiction. It was mostly about the intelligence of
        > > cetaceans but they also talked about the intelligence of elephants as
        > > did John Lilly a few years earlier.
        > >
        > > Before I continue, let me relate this quote from the book Portraits in
        > > the Wild (1975) by Cynthia Moss, on some strange behavior in the African
        > > elephant, "It has seriously been considered that the elephants know that
        > > their companions are being killed for their tusk and that they carry the
        > > tusk away to hide them. What is more, tusk have been found smashed
        > > against rocks." page 33.
        > >
        > > And here's a quote from 'Smarter than Man' about the Elephant, "A
        > > number of young elephants in captivity developed the nasty habit of
        > > stuffing mud into the wooden bells they wore around their knecks so that
        > > they could no longer ring. Then they stole bananas during the night. In
        > > this way they managed to plunder entire banana groves in the immediate
        > > vicinity of the plantation owner's house."
        > >
        > > And they can read too! Another quote from Smarter than Man, " In 1957,
        > > Bernard Rensch described the following experiment performed on a
        > > five-year-old elephant in a zoo. It was taught to pick out one of two
        > > visual symbols in order to get food. It learned to remember 20 such
        > > pairs of symbols at one time, and presumably could have learned more. As
        > > the process continued, it learned faster and faster. One year later,
        > > the same elephant was tested on 13 of these pairs and managed all of
        > > them but one, which had been difficult to learn in the first place". An
        > > elephant never forgets?
        > >
        > > I didn't learn how to read until I was six, but I always was a slow
        > > learner.
        > >
        > > And, finally, here's a quote from the Encyclopedia Americana (1975)
        > > "Elephants seem to be extremely intelligent and individualistic. They
        > > can make a great variety of sounds and definitely use sounds to
        > > communicate among themselves. They also appear to have complex emotions
        > > and very pronounced personalities. In fact, they act like human beings,
        > > seeming to reason and act logically. They have been know to cry from
        > > sheer frustration; to commit "mercy killings" on an incurably ill member
        > > of the herd; to help- by lifting or supporting- a wounded or ill member
        > > of the herd and to rescue humans from other elephants or from natural or
        > > man-made disasters." I.T. Sanderson who made similar statements when the
        > > zoologist wrote his book on the natural history of elephants, 'Dynasty
        > > of the Abu' (1963).
        > >
        > > To get back to the burial behavior of elephants, Cynthia Moss writes,
        > > "Elephants often bury the dead, including dead elephants, other dead
        > > animals they find, and even dead humans they have killed. They cover the
        > > body with earth and vegetation." pg 33.
        > >
        > > What do I think of all this? Well, I certainly don't think we have to
        > > look towards the stars to find evidence of other intelligent life in the
        > > universe. We just have to look a little beyond our human egos.
        > >
        >
        > SM: Very interesting. I fully agree, there are certainly a lot of
        > intelligent species inhabiting
        > the Earth, elephants included. As far as the burying of the dead is
        > concerned, could this, do you think, have anything to do with trying to
        > keep carnivorous predators and scavengers away?
        >
        > Stephen Munro.
        >
        > > > Community email addresses:
        > > Post message: AAT@onelist.com
        > > Subscribe: AAT-subscribe@onelist.com
        > > Unsubscribe: AAT-unsubscribe@onelist.com
        > > List owner: AAT-owner@onelist.com
        > >
        > > Shortcut URL to this page:
        > > http://www.onelist.com/community/AAT
        >
        > > Community email addresses:
        > Post message: AAT@onelist.com
        > Subscribe: AAT-subscribe@onelist.com
        > Unsubscribe: AAT-unsubscribe@onelist.com
        > List owner: AAT-owner@onelist.com
        >
        > Shortcut URL to this page:
        > http://www.onelist.com/community/AAT
      • Mario Vaneechoutte
        ... The knowledge Marcel provided was very interesting but all seemed to date back to the 1970s. As if there was no recent research carried out. ... -- Mario
        Message 3 of 12 , Dec 1, 1999
        • 0 Attachment
          Elaine Morgan wrote:

          > From: "Elaine Morgan" <elaine@...>
          >
          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: Mario.Vaneechoutte@... <Mario.Vaneechoutte@...>
          > To: AAT discussion list <AAT@onelist.com>
          > Date: Tuesday, November 30, 1999 7:09 AM
          > Subject: [AAT] Elephants and burial behaviour
          >
          > >From: Mario.Vaneechoutte@...
          > >
          > >>
          > >Does anyone know:
          > >How strong is the evidence of burial behaviour in elephants?
          >
          > That is what I was wondering
          >
          > Is there literature about the complexity of their language?
          >
          > And about that.
          >
          > Elaine

          The knowledge Marcel provided was very interesting but all seemed to date
          back to the 1970s. As if there was no recent research carried out.

          >
          >
          > > Community email addresses:
          > Post message: AAT@onelist.com
          > Subscribe: AAT-subscribe@onelist.com
          > Unsubscribe: AAT-unsubscribe@onelist.com
          > List owner: AAT-owner@onelist.com
          >
          > Shortcut URL to this page:
          > http://www.onelist.com/community/AAT



          --
          Mario Vaneechoutte
          Department Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology & Immunology
          University Hospital
          De Pintelaan 185
          9000 GENT
          Belgium
          Phone: +32 9 240 36 92
          Fax: +32 9 240 36 59

          Mario.Vaneechoutte@...

          (Mailed from Home)

          http://allserv.rug.ac.be/~mvaneech/Index.htm

          The memetic origin of language: humans as musical primates.
          J. Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission 2
          http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit/1998/vol2/vaneechoutte_m&skoyles_jr.html
        • Marc Verhaegen
          ... language as we know it, that is language which enables to think about the future, that is language which will lead to things like burial behaviour, is
          Message 4 of 12 , Dec 2, 1999
          • 0 Attachment
            >From: "bobml" <mlbob@...>
            >> From: "Marcel F. Williams" <hydra9@...>


            >> > > >>Mario: Also from the archeological data it seems evident that
            language as we know it, that is language which enables to think about the
            future, that is language which will lead to things like burial behaviour, is
            rather recent (200 000 years at most?).

            >> > >Marc: That is what Stephen also believes (or even later??), but
            questionable IMO.

            >Stephen: I do tend to believe that, but of course language can mean
            different things to different people, which is perhaps one reason why there
            is so much disagreement between people as to when, how and why language may
            have evolved. Let me briefly explain some of my admittedly speculative
            ideas. (I've been intending to post a more detailed hypothesis on the AAT
            onelist files, but have been a bit busy lately.) I believe that the type of
            langauge humans presently use might be a relatively recent invention,
            perhaps only a few hundred thousand years old. But I've never suggested that
            speech didn't exist earlier, or at least a more simplified form of human
            language, in fact I believe that some type of speech most certainly did
            exist. I agree with Marc and Elaine and others who have suggested
            that the diving and swimming part of our evolutionary past was probably a
            key factor in the development of some of the prerequisites for human speech.
            I don't believe, however, that language evolved simply because it was a more
            efficient way of communicating than the type of communication systems that
            had been relied upon before. Otherwise, why didn't it become more common
            within the animal kingdom? (I concede that elephents, whales, dolphins and
            other animals may have very sophisticated vocal (or other?) communication
            systems, but are these languages as we understand the term?) I
            believe there must have been some type of change in the environment that led
            to the evolution of langauge, not simply a bigger brain and more control
            over breathing (people can talk without speaking, after all). The most
            obvious environmental changes that human ancestors have faced since their
            split form the (non-langauge using?) chimpanzees, include, becoming less
            arboreal, more aquatic adapted (i.e., better divers and swimmers), then
            becoming more terrestrial. If we accept that becoming more aquatic led to
            the evolution of language then we must also accept that most (or all?) Homo
            species had language. If we accept that the return to land led to human
            language then all anatomically modern humans must have had language, and
            maybe Neandertals? Of course this is possible, and perhaps even probable,
            but the archeological evidence for language use in these species is not,
            IMO, overwhelming. (Marc may disagree, and others, I'm sure)

            No, I don't disagree. Speech did not evolve at once. Becoming more aquatic
            must have had influences on our language capacities, & returning to the land
            must also have had influences on our language capacities. Probably language
            evolution was a succession of one-sound-sentences to one-word-sentences to
            grammaticised language. The problem is: where do we place these different
            phases, eg, did our diving ancestors already had one-word sentences? is
            fully grammaticised language post-aquatic? etc.

            >One other significant environmental change that humans have gone through
            recently is the migration accross Wallace's Line, essentially from lands of
            lions, leopards and wild dogs, to a land with no such carnivorous predators
            (though of course Austalasia had its own carnivorous predators, but these
            had evolved in a very different environment to the environment of
            Eurasia/Africa). It is often assumed that humans had language when they
            crossed Wallace's Line. I'm not convinced of this. Certainly I don't believe
            there is ample evidence to treat this assumption as an undisputed fact, as
            many do. The question I therefore ask, speculatively, is, if humans didn't
            have the type of language which we recognize today as human language, when
            they crossed Wallaces Line, could it have been the crossing of Wallace's
            Line which led to the evolution of the type of language we now recognize as
            human language?




            >> > > >Marcel: The African elephant also buries their dead and appears to
            have a high complex audio-vocal language.

            >> > >Marc: That's true. IMO burying your death does not imply (human)
            speech.

            >> > Mario: Well, thanks for bringing this up, Marcel. I also recently
            learned that elephants have a subsonic (right word?) kind of communication.
            Their long 'alpenhorn like' trunks and their large 'parabolic receptor' ears
            might serve the function of sending and receiving long distance messages,
            not audible to the human ear, because of too low frequency. This kind of
            communication seems to have attained some degree of complexity. Together
            with their burial behaviour, it keeps intriguing me. So, in both cases,
            burial behaviour could indicate the existence of complex language, as I
            claimed (?).

            Burial & language are not necessarily connected. Why can't their be burying
            without language?


            >> > Does anyone know: How strong is the evidence of burial behaviour in
            elephants? To what degree do they exhibit this behaviour? Is it common in
            all elephant herds? Is there literature about the complexity of their
            language? (But maybe these questions do not belong on this list) Mario
            Vaneechoutte

            >> MW: I've been accumilating facts on proboscidean morphology and
            intelligence since I first read about the remarkable intelligence of
            elephants in the 1972 book, "Smarter than Man?" which was co-written by one
            of the contributors (Karl-Erich Fichtelius) to the book, 'The Aquatic Ape:
            Fact or Fiction. It was mostly about the intelligence of cetaceans but they
            also talked about the intelligence of elephants as did John Lilly a few
            years earlier. Before I continue, let me relate this quote from the book
            Portraits in the Wild (1975) by Cynthia Moss, on some strange behavior in
            the African elephant, "It has seriously been considered that the elephants
            know that their companions are being killed for their tusk and that they
            carry the tusk away to hide them. What is more, tusk have been found smashed
            against rocks." page 33. And here's a quote from 'Smarter than Man'
            about the Elephant, "A number of young elephants in captivity developed the
            nasty habit of stuffing mud into the wooden bells they wore around their
            knecks so that they could no longer ring. Then they stole bananas during the
            night. In this way they managed to plunder entire banana groves in the
            immediate vicinity of the plantation owner's house." And they can
            read too! Another quote from Smarter than Man, " In 1957, Bernard Rensch
            described the following experiment performed on a five-year-old elephant in
            a zoo. It was taught to pick out one of two visual symbols in order to get
            food. It learned to remember 20 such pairs of symbols at one time, and
            presumably could have learned more. As the process continued, it learned
            faster and faster. One year later, the same elephant was tested on 13 of
            these pairs and managed all of them but one, which had been difficult to
            learn in the first place". An elephant never forgets? I didn't
            learn how to read until I was six, but I always was a slow learner.
            And, finally, here's a quote from the Encyclopedia Americana (1975)
            "Elephants seem to be extremely intelligent and individualistic. They can
            make a great variety of sounds and definitely use sounds to communicate
            among themselves. They also appear to have complex emotions and very
            pronounced personalities. In fact, they act like human beings, seeming to
            reason and act logically. They have been know to cry from sheer frustration;
            to commit "mercy killings" on an incurably ill member of the herd; to help-
            by lifting or supporting- a wounded or ill member of the herd and to rescue
            humans from other elephants or from natural or man-made disasters." I.T.
            Sanderson who made similar statements when the zoologist wrote his book on
            the natural history of elephants, 'Dynasty of the Abu' (1963). To
            get back to the burial behavior of elephants, Cynthia Moss writes,
            "Elephants often bury the dead, including dead elephants, other dead animals
            they find, and even dead humans they have killed. They cover the body with
            earth and vegetation." pg 33. What do I think of all this? Well, I
            certainly don't think we have to look towards the stars to find evidence of
            other intelligent life in the universe. We just have to look a little beyond
            our human egos.

            >SM: Very interesting. I fully agree, there are certainly a lot of
            intelligent species inhabiting the Earth, elephants included. As far as the
            burying of the dead is concerned, could this, do you think, have anything to
            do with trying to keep carnivorous predators and scavengers away?
            Stephen Munro.


            Yes, why are humans & perhaps elephants burying their dead? or human
            cremating their dead? That's the question we have to ask IMO, not the
            possible relation with language.

            Marc
          • Gokce Altinbas
            I cannot fancy how crossing the Wallace Line could have any significant impact on the development of human language worldwide. On Australian Aboriginal
            Message 5 of 12 , Dec 2, 1999
            • 0 Attachment
              I cannot fancy how crossing the Wallace Line could have any significant
              impact on the development of human language worldwide.
              On Australian Aboriginal languages, of course. It is reasonable to assume
              that an environment different from the rest of the world would be reflected
              in the Aboriginal languages with are different from others. But without
              specific points to look for, Aboriginal languages are just as different as
              Hottentot and Athabaskan.
            • bobml
              ... reflected ... as ... But Athabaskan didn t have its origins in America, wouldn t you agree? Its origins could probably be traced back at least to Asia, if
              Message 6 of 12 , Dec 3, 1999
              • 0 Attachment
                ----------
                > From: Gokce Altinbas <yellowheadgokce@...>
                > To: AAT@onelist.com
                > Subject: Re: [AAT] Elephants and burial behaviour
                > Date: Friday, December 03, 1999 12:42 PM
                >
                > From: "Gokce Altinbas" <yellowheadgokce@...>
                >
                > I cannot fancy how crossing the Wallace Line could have any significant
                > impact on the development of human language worldwide.
                > On Australian Aboriginal languages, of course. It is reasonable to assume

                > that an environment different from the rest of the world would be
                reflected
                > in the Aboriginal languages with are different from others. But without
                > specific points to look for, Aboriginal languages are just as different
                as
                > Hottentot and Athabaskan.


                But Athabaskan didn't have its origins in America, wouldn't you agree? Its
                origins could probably be traced back at least to Asia, if we assume that
                the first inhabitants of the Americas were already language users when they
                arrived, and that they arrived from Asia by crossing the Bering land
                bridge. Hottentott too would have its origins in an ancient language. The
                question is where did this original common language (if there was such a
                thing?) first emerge? Most people would say Africa, and that is certainly a
                distinct possibility. But not proven as far as I can see.

                I'm sure (and Marc has helped convince me of this) that the last commmon
                ancestor of all humans must have had at least the ability to use spoken or
                gestural language for communication. But grammer hasn't always existed, and
                before it existed, language as we know it certainly wouldn't have existed
                either. I believe the environmental conditions for the development of
                grammer may have been more suitable east of Wallace's Line than west of it.
                It is possible that anatomically modern humans may have crossed Wallace's
                Line more than 100 000 years ago. Undeniable evidence of the existence of
                (modern?) human languages appears in most places in the world after 100 000
                years (symbolic art, ceremonial rituals, long distance trade routes, etc).


                I have to repeat that this is speculative idea, but there are, in my
                opinion, many reasons for taking it seriously. The areas east of Wallaces
                line have produced some of the worlds oldest rock art, and evidence for one
                of the the oldest known ceremonial burials comes form south eastern
                Australia. Papua New Guinea is one of the most linguistically diverse areas
                in the world, with estimates of some 1000 different languages. But it is
                the mythologies of the cultures east of Wallace's Line, in my opinion,
                which may provide the most useful data as to where, when and how language
                might have first evolved.

                I think we can all agree that there is an enormous amount of work left to
                be done in this area.

                Stephen Munro.
                >
                > > Community email addresses:
                > Post message: AAT@onelist.com
                > Subscribe: AAT-subscribe@onelist.com
                > Unsubscribe: AAT-unsubscribe@onelist.com
                > List owner: AAT-owner@onelist.com
                >
                > Shortcut URL to this page:
                > http://www.onelist.com/community/AAT
              • Marc Verhaegen
                ... impact on the development of human language worldwide. On Australian Aboriginal languages, of course. It is reasonable to assume that an environment
                Message 7 of 12 , Dec 4, 1999
                • 0 Attachment
                  >From: "bobml" <mlbob@...>
                  >> From: "Gokce Altinbas" <yellowheadgokce@...>


                  >> I cannot fancy how crossing the Wallace Line could have any significant
                  impact on the development of human language worldwide. On Australian
                  Aboriginal languages, of course. It is reasonable to assume that an
                  environment different from the rest of the world would be reflected in the
                  Aboriginal languages with are different from others. But without specific
                  points to look for, Aboriginal languages are just as different as Hottentot
                  and Athabaskan.

                  >But Athabaskan didn't have its origins in America, wouldn't you agree? Its
                  origins could probably be traced back at least to Asia, if we assume that
                  the first inhabitants of the Americas were already language users when they
                  arrived, and that they arrived from Asia by crossing the Bering land bridge.
                  Hottentott too would have its origins in an ancient language. The question
                  is where did this original common language (if there was such a thing?)
                  first emerge? Most people would say Africa, and that is certainly a distinct
                  possibility. But not proven as far as I can see. I'm sure (and
                  Marc has helped convince me of this) that the last commmon ancestor of all
                  humans must have had at least the ability to use spoken or gestural language
                  for communication. But grammar hasn't always existed, and before it existed,
                  language as we know it certainly wouldn't have existed either. I believe the
                  environmental conditions for the development of grammar may have been more
                  suitable east of Wallace's Line than west of it. It is possible that
                  anatomically modern humans may have crossed Wallace's Line more than 100 000
                  years ago. Undeniable evidence of the existence of (modern?) human languages
                  appears in most places in the world after 100 000 years (symbolic art,
                  ceremonial rituals, long distance trade routes, etc). I have to
                  repeat that this is speculative idea, but there are, in my opinion, many
                  reasons for taking it seriously. The areas east of Wallaces line have
                  produced some of the worlds oldest rock art, and evidence for one of the the
                  oldest known ceremonial burials comes form south eastern Australia. Papua
                  New Guinea is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world,
                  with estimates of some 1000 different languages. But it is the mythologies
                  of the cultures east of Wallace's Line, in my opinion, which may provide the
                  most useful data as to where, when and how language might have first
                  evolved. I think we can all agree that there is an enormous
                  amount of work left to be done in this area. Stephen Munro.


                  The greatest linguistic diversity is seen in Africa (between the Khoisan &
                  all other languages), not in SE-Asia IMO. As (adopted) children from all
                  over the world can learn any language, I think the sapiens LCA must already
                  have spoken a language from which all existing languages derive. When modern
                  humans left Africa (ca.100,000 ya) they probably first went East along the
                  Indian Ocean to New Guinea & Australia (which they perhaps reached more than
                  70,000 ya). I agree with Gokce that it's very unlikely that some of these
                  people (or only their ideas) East of Wallace's Line came back to bring
                  grammar or another linguistic improvement to all other humans.

                  I think there must have been something very special that enabled the sapiens
                  LCA to colonize the whole world in a rel.short time. But what? Certain
                  aspects of language, eg, improvement of pronunciation? grammar? a maior
                  technological improvement, eg, nets to catch fish & birds? complete
                  mastering of fire? domestication of dogs (which happened at about that time,
                  somewhat more than 100,000 ya)? Dogs could help them to hunt, but perhaps
                  equally important, they could warn them against possible predators or
                  enemies (barking). About 200,000 ya African people left their
                  riverine-wetland habitats (Acheulian cultures, ie, erectus-like) & became
                  more like the traditional hunter-gatherers we now see in Africa (Deacon 1998
                  Dual Congress Abstracts p.35). That suggests that our relative independence
                  of water is rather recent & might have been a crucial factor is the success
                  of sapiens (the thick skeletal bones & more frequent ear exostoses & traces
                  of cattails on stone tools in neandertals & erectus suggest that these older
                  Homo species still found part of their food in the water). Any ideas what
                  might have been the key factor why sapiens could become more indepent from
                  water & could eradicate neandertals in Europe & erectus in S-Asia in a
                  rather short time?

                  Marc
                • Gokce Altinbas
                  The greatest liguistic diversity is in deed in the island of Papua, which is said to be a liguistic genetic pile up . The most liguistically diverse region in
                  Message 8 of 12 , Dec 4, 1999
                  • 0 Attachment
                    The greatest liguistic diversity is in deed in the island of Papua, which is
                    said to be a "liguistic genetic pile up". The most liguistically diverse
                    region in Africa, IMO should be from the ivory coast to Zimbabwe, or
                    otherwise in the Grand Rift Valley, where even though Niger-Kordofanian
                    languages are the norm, they display great variance which can only be
                    attributed to substratal languages. Besides, these N-K languages coexist
                    with two Pygmy linguistic families, a variety of Nilo-Saharan tongues and
                    several click languages which are only associated because of their
                    clicks(probably several liguistic families can be assigned to click
                    languages from Kenya to the Cape). But other than the barely surviving click
                    and pygmy languages modern Sub-Saharan languages generally fall under N-K
                    and N-S stocks, which seems quite astonishing due to the fact that Africa is
                    the cradle of humanity and not all N-K and N-S people had domesticated
                    animals of burden and mastered the wheel so that they could immigrate vast
                    adjacent areas and eliminate proto-Africans not of their linguistic stocks.
                    What can be sure is the relatively recent Bantu and Turkana(and Tutsis also)
                    into vast territories of S and E Africa giving rise to the cattle herding
                    Nilotic and Bantu cultures there.

                    >The greatest linguistic diversity is seen in Africa (between the Khoisan &
                    >all other languages), not in SE-Asia IMO. As (adopted) children from all
                    >over the world can learn any language, I think the sapiens LCA must already
                  • bobml
                    ... significant ... the ... Hottentot ... Its ... they ... bridge. ... question ... distinct ... (and ... all ... language ... existed, ... the ... more ...
                    Message 9 of 12 , Dec 4, 1999
                    • 0 Attachment
                      ----------
                      > From: Marc Verhaegen <Marc.Verhaegen@...>
                      > To: AAT@onelist.com
                      > Subject: Re: [AAT] Elephants and burial behaviour
                      > Date: Saturday, December 04, 1999 10:24 PM
                      >
                      > From: "Marc Verhaegen" <Marc.Verhaegen@...>
                      >
                      > >From: "bobml" <mlbob@...>
                      > >> From: "Gokce Altinbas" <yellowheadgokce@...>
                      >
                      >
                      > >> I cannot fancy how crossing the Wallace Line could have any
                      significant
                      > impact on the development of human language worldwide. On Australian
                      > Aboriginal languages, of course. It is reasonable to assume that an
                      > environment different from the rest of the world would be reflected in
                      the
                      > Aboriginal languages with are different from others. But without specific
                      > points to look for, Aboriginal languages are just as different as
                      Hottentot
                      > and Athabaskan.
                      >
                      > >But Athabaskan didn't have its origins in America, wouldn't you agree?
                      Its
                      > origins could probably be traced back at least to Asia, if we assume that
                      > the first inhabitants of the Americas were already language users when
                      they
                      > arrived, and that they arrived from Asia by crossing the Bering land
                      bridge.
                      > Hottentott too would have its origins in an ancient language. The
                      question
                      > is where did this original common language (if there was such a thing?)
                      > first emerge? Most people would say Africa, and that is certainly a
                      distinct
                      > possibility. But not proven as far as I can see. I'm sure
                      (and
                      > Marc has helped convince me of this) that the last commmon ancestor of
                      all
                      > humans must have had at least the ability to use spoken or gestural
                      language
                      > for communication. But grammar hasn't always existed, and before it
                      existed,
                      > language as we know it certainly wouldn't have existed either. I believe
                      the
                      > environmental conditions for the development of grammar may have been
                      more
                      > suitable east of Wallace's Line than west of it. It is possible that
                      > anatomically modern humans may have crossed Wallace's Line more than 100
                      000
                      > years ago. Undeniable evidence of the existence of (modern?) human
                      languages
                      > appears in most places in the world after 100 000 years (symbolic art,
                      > ceremonial rituals, long distance trade routes, etc). I have
                      to
                      > repeat that this is speculative idea, but there are, in my opinion, many
                      > reasons for taking it seriously. The areas east of Wallaces line have
                      > produced some of the worlds oldest rock art, and evidence for one of the
                      the
                      > oldest known ceremonial burials comes form south eastern Australia. Papua
                      > New Guinea is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world,
                      > with estimates of some 1000 different languages. But it is the
                      mythologies
                      > of the cultures east of Wallace's Line, in my opinion, which may provide
                      the
                      > most useful data as to where, when and how language might have first
                      > evolved. I think we can all agree that there is an enormous
                      > amount of work left to be done in this area. Stephen Munro.
                      >
                      >
                      > The greatest linguistic diversity is seen in Africa (between the Khoisan
                      &
                      > all other languages), not in SE-Asia IMO. As (adopted) children from all
                      > over the world can learn any language, I think the sapiens LCA must
                      already
                      > have spoken a language from which all existing languages derive. When
                      modern
                      > humans left Africa (ca.100,000 ya) they probably first went East along
                      the
                      > Indian Ocean to New Guinea & Australia (which they perhaps reached more
                      than
                      > 70,000 ya). I agree with Gokce that it's very unlikely that some of these
                      > people (or only their ideas) East of Wallace's Line came back to bring
                      > grammar or another linguistic improvement to all other humans.

                      There are some researchers, such as Peter Kershaw from Monash University,
                      who believe humans may have been responsible for the sudden increase in
                      bush fires which occured in some regions of Australia about 130 000 years
                      ago. And although some (disputed by some?) genetic research points to
                      Africa as the home of the last common ancestor, there have been other tests
                      (on Beta globin?) which suggest Asia and Australia may be the home of the
                      most genetically diverse populations. So it's possibly not proven that the
                      last common ancestor of all humans lived in Africa. The island of Lombok,
                      and also Sulawesi, are part of Asia, and are east of Wallace's Line, so the
                      possibility of travelling back and forth, and of ideas and possibly
                      language innovations also crossing back and forth accross this line (and
                      Homo erectus and monkeys and rodents also managed to cross this line,
                      probably without language) is not too difficult to imagine IMO.


                      >
                      > I think there must have been something very special that enabled the
                      sapiens
                      > LCA to colonize the whole world in a rel.short time. But what? Certain
                      > aspects of language, eg, improvement of pronunciation? grammar? a maior
                      > technological improvement, eg, nets to catch fish & birds? complete
                      > mastering of fire? domestication of dogs (which happened at about that
                      time,
                      > somewhat more than 100,000 ya)? Dogs could help them to hunt, but perhaps
                      > equally important, they could warn them against possible predators or
                      > enemies (barking). About 200,000 ya African people left their
                      > riverine-wetland habitats (Acheulian cultures, ie, erectus-like) & became
                      > more like the traditional hunter-gatherers we now see in Africa (Deacon
                      1998
                      > Dual Congress Abstracts p.35). That suggests that our relative
                      independence
                      > of water is rather recent & might have been a crucial factor is the
                      success
                      > of sapiens (the thick skeletal bones & more frequent ear exostoses &
                      traces
                      > of cattails on stone tools in neandertals & erectus suggest that these
                      older
                      > Homo species still found part of their food in the water). Any ideas what
                      > might have been the key factor why sapiens could become more indepent
                      from
                      > water & could eradicate neandertals in Europe & erectus in S-Asia in a
                      > rather short time?

                      I believe it must have been the development of modern language as we now
                      recognize it, i.e., with grammer. With language, nets can be made, fire can
                      be made, dogs can be domesticated, hunting strategies can become more
                      sophisticated. Knowledge can be passed from individual to individual and
                      from generation to generation. Questions can be asked and answered. Stories
                      can be told which can map out areas and landmarks to an individual who may
                      never have visited that land before. Knowledge of which plants can and
                      can't be eaten, and when and where and how to obtain certain foods can be
                      passed from generation to generation. Which animals are dangerous and how
                      best to trap certain animals.

                      I'm convinced it was this innovation which led to the upper Palaeolithic in
                      Europe. Deacon's suggestion that 200 000 years ago people started to act
                      like modern hunters and gatherers in Africa is interesting, but far from
                      convincing IMO, and I believe there are some researchers who disagree with
                      his view. I have no problem accepting that people at around this time in
                      Africa may have become more terrestrially mobile, and therefore perhaps
                      able to gather, hunt and scavange in a greater area than their predecesors.
                      But is there evidence that they were moving around their territories in a
                      systematic and deliberate pattern as modern hunter gathers do? that they
                      were trading and exchanging ideas with their neighbours? that they had
                      developed more sophisticated hunting techniques than their predecessors?
                      Modern hunter gatherers behave this way because they possess modern
                      language. It's possible that 200 000 years ago people in Africa had
                      developed modern language, but what is the evidence? The Howiesons Poort
                      Industry, which certainly seems to be a very sophisticated tool making
                      industry, begins, apparently, about 70 000 years ago, but even this doesn't
                      continue on to the present. And at around this time there is evidence that
                      people were ritually buring there dead in south east Australia, so who can
                      say for sure whether modern behaviour began in Africa before flowing east
                      or began in Australasia before flowing west?

                      Stephen.


                      >
                      > > Community email addresses:
                      > Post message: AAT@onelist.com
                      > Subscribe: AAT-subscribe@onelist.com
                      > Unsubscribe: AAT-unsubscribe@onelist.com
                      > List owner: AAT-owner@onelist.com
                      >
                      > Shortcut URL to this page:
                      > http://www.onelist.com/community/AAT
                    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.